“Infinity” is one of Marvel’s strongest event series in years, possibly because it’s concentrating on being a story rather than an event. Issue #4 is once again written by Jonathan Hickman, this time joined by Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver on art, and after a few issues of space-based conflict, things start to get really personal in the most enjoyable installment so far.
If anything’s been wrong with “Infinity,” it’s that the sheer scale of events make them hard to relate to. We’ve seen a lot of our favorite characters talking, but the bulk of the fighting feels like it’s been conducted by vast armies, all of whom are composed of faceless alien races. There’s a lot of spectacle, but like much of Hickman’s work it has felt emotionally cold. Well, that criticism can be put to bed now: not only do we get a Thor moment for the ages, there’s also a fantastic scene of Black Bolt fighting Thanos — both one-on-one confrontations set the tone for the issues to come and get as visceral a reaction as any event comic can.
This issue also contains the key turning point we’ve known was coming since the announcement of “Inhumanity” some months ago. Personally, I’m not that interested in Inhumans as an idea, and this feels like an attempt to rework the concept into something closer to mutants (“Normal person spontaneously develops powers and discovers they’re a member of another species”) which doesn’t particularly grab me. Worse still, it has the potential to affect the uniqueness of both concepts, although given that Marvel must have noticed this we can assume that they’ve got a story which warrants the risk. Even so, it’s by far the least interesting part of the book, and telling that it’s the first moment which feels as though it exists to set up another story rather than be part of this one.
Art-wise, the book’s visuals are simply brilliant, as they have been since day one. Opena and Weaver aren’t necessarily as high-profile as some “event” artists, but the look of this issue shows that they deserve their shot at the big time. Every page is full of gravitas and import, and it manages that while being simply beautiful to look at.
Of course, now that the “big” development of the series has happened, it does beg the question of where the story’s going to end. It’s been a while since the conclusion of an event felt anything other than pre-ordained (probably not since “Civil War,” in fact) but “Infinity” is giving off the same anything-could-happen vibes. It’s testament to Hickman’s superb writing that readers should expect something really special yet to come.